Friday 6 April 2007

Lies, damn lies and benefit claim statistics

I see the Department of Work and Pensions are to use lie detectors, to determine whether or not claimants are eligible for benefits (BBC News article: Benefit staff to use lie detector).

What's more, unlike most traditional "lie detectors" which measure a whole range of factors (such as heartbeat, skin resistance, brain electrical activity), the "lie detectors" used by the DWP will base their decision entirely on one factor along - the claimant's voice!

So, some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in society are to have their livelihood determined by technology which is still considered suspect. What's more, what about people (like yours truly) who have speech disabilities?

Even traditional "lie detectors" which base their decision on a range of physical readings of a person's metabolism, are deemed of suspect accuracy - "evidence" based on "lie detector" tests is not deemed admissable in court, for example.

But there is one place where lie detectors have been uses successfully - on The Jeremy Kyle Show. Now that's a point, if the government think lie detectors are so infallible, maybe John Hutton should invite Tony Blair (not to mention his namesake, Lord Hutton, who thinks Tony Blair's so sweet and innocent) to appear on the Jeremy Kyle Show. The episode title - "The electorate don't trust me after my 45 minute affair with WMD's"!

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